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Publisher of the Month
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The Op, formally known as USAopoly, was founded in 1994 with the idea of rebranding Monopoly into differnet themes. It was some what successfull as you may have seen! The Op have since have picked up many other huge IP's.
The Op now publishes games from worlds such as Disney, Marvel, Yahtzee, Codenames Munchkin, DC, Telestrations, Harry Potter and more! Read on as we take a look at three of our favourite games from this huge universe below.
WBG's Top Three The Op Games:
If you are a fan of Harry Potter and are looking for a family-friendly game then look no further! Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle is a truly immersive version of the books/films transported to board game form and is a lot of fun to play!
The game plays out across the seven different stories with a deck of cards available for each year you play, (and a few other surprises along the way!) You start off in year one, young, innocent and with very few powers. Your job is to defeat whatever villains come your way and stop the “baddies” from taking over the locations present in the game. It is a relatively simple opening and more about teaching you the mechanics of the game. You cannot really lose it; it is more about how long it takes to succeed. Your characters can take damage, but if they zero out, they are simply stunned. This just means you lose half your cards but your health is restored to full at the end of that turn. But there is no real risk of this is game one.
The game is geared like this for younger players with a smooth introduction to the rules, deckbuilding, and ease of play. The early levels as such may be a little slow and frustrating for older or more experienced players, but the theme is so good and the art; as stills straight from the movies, brings you into the world of Harry Potter in such a great way, you forgive the simplicity of these early games. Just enjoy being part of this magical world!
By year three, things start to ramp up a little, but I will not spoil anything. But as you can see from the picture, there is a new box of treats to open for each year you play. This alone is a magical part of the game and children will love opening the boxes and seeing how the games changes each time. As you play through each year in order, it feels so close to the story, like you are actually Harry, Hermione or Ron (or Neville I suppose) going through your time at Hogwarts.
The game plays as a campaign with expandable components each year. Nothing is destroyed or changed permanently and as such you can reply any year as you please. But for the first seven successful games you will be progressing along the school years, opening a new box of treats each time and adding new cards to the ones you already have. As such, each year you will have more valuable and powerful cards available to you, but of course they will be mixed in with the previous year’s cards too. You need to buy new cards to make your available deck of cards more powerful against the dark arts you will be up against. This is deckbuilding. A classic board game mechanic that Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle is one of the best gateways into. If you want your kids to learn this brilliant and staple board game mechanic, then buy this game!
The “Rising” series of games have entered some formidable worlds! From Thanos Rising in 2018 in the Marvel universe, to Harry Potter: Death Eaters Rising and Star Wars: Dark Side Rising in 2019 there have been some of the biggest IP’s in film history covered with this game! In 2020 The Op released SpongeBob SquarePants: Plankton Rising and The Batman who Laughs Rising. I love Batman and was very keen to see how this world has been used for this series of amazing games.
The Batman who laughs is the “Jokerised” version of Bruce Wayne from an alternate universe where a version of him has turned into a super villain with the powers of Batman and The Joker combined. You don’t need to know much more than this to enjoy the game, but I did need to explain at least this bit to my family as we played. They were a little confused about the name. I suppose it is a little odd that the developers for this game haven’t gone with a more famous Batman villain such as The Penguin, The Green Goblin or the classic Joker. But I am sure fans of the recent comics and miniseries that includes The Batman who laughs will love this! Especially the awesome Batman who Laughs miniature that comes with the game.
Each “Rising” game plays relatively similar to the next. Unless you are a huge fan, you don’t really need to have them all. So, my advice would be to pick the theme and world that interests you the most and go for that one. But they do all have their own little quirks and rule variations and of course live in completely different worlds, so the completists among us will probably want them all! I certainly do have my eye on the Star Wars one, simply for the amazing Darth Vader miniature!
In the game, you choose which super-hero to start with. Your mission is to recruit more heroes into your group, fight off villains as they appear and ultimately defeat The Batman Who Laughs when he finally arrives at the end of the game. At the start of the round, you choose one of three parts of the city to go to. You then roll the Batman Who Laughs dice which determine which area he goes to, if he attacks or not, and how much further down the time track you move that round. When you get to the final section of the time track The Batman Who Laughs appears and is available to fight if you are in the same area as him. If you get to the end of the final section before defeating him, you lose. If you defeat him, you win! You can also lose from having too many heroes perish, but I find that is rare.
The way you recruit new heroes and fight the villains is through dice rolling. You start with four dice available to you, but as you recruit new heroes to your group, they bring new powers and extra dice. By the end of the game, you could be rolling a bucketful of dice, which alone is very satisfying. Each roll, you must use at least one dice, adding them to the hero you are trying to recruit or villain you are trying to defeat by matching the symbols on the dice face and the card. You then roll the remaining dice until they are all used up.
The game plays fast and light and is very enjoyable as you see your group of heroes expand and powers increase. There is some luck involved as with all dice games, but this is negated by the powers you have on the cards. It can be frustrating when you cannot get into the same location as The Batman Who Laughs to fight him due to the dice rolls, but I like games like this that are not always winnable. It makes the victories all the more sweet. This is a fairly dark theme, with some amazing art that is more suited to older children and adults, just look at the box! But my children (5 and 7) love it and always want to play this. In the game there is nothing unsuitable for them, but I do place the box lid out of their view!
Telestrations has had a few incarnations now. The original game was hugely popular back in 2009 and has now spurned quite a few different releases, including multi-player versions, adult editions and now Upside Drawn. A new variation that completely flips the game mechanics around, literally!
Party games work best when they bring three elements in my opinion. They are quick and easy to learn. They scale to multiple player counts without affecting game length or player interaction. And most importantly, they are fun! Telestrations: Upside Drawn ticks all three of these with aplomb!
The original game was a fun variation on “telephone,” a game you may have played as a child. Telephone works by players sitting in a circle. The starting players thinks of a message and whispers this to the person sat next to them. They pass it on and it goes around the circle until it reaches the first person again, who then reveals what the original message was and what it has now hilariously turned into! Telestrations took this idea, fused it with Pictionary and turned it into a board game by asking the first player to draw something, then the second to write down a description of that picture. The third player then has to draw as best they can a picture from the second players description alone, and so on. The description and drawing slowly turn into crazy things bringing much hilarity when they are revealed in turn at the end.
Telestrations Upside Drawn doesn’t really take any of these mechanics, other than the fact that someone will be drawing, but strangely, it wont be the person who is holding the pen! So this is very much a brand new game with new mechanics. In Upside Drawn, the game works by one person looking at a card showing a person, place, thing, action or phrase. They then roll a dice which will choose one of these words for their team to draw. They alone know this word in their group but will share with one other player from the opposite team. Another player on the same team will then hold the pen over the white board ready to draw, but they cannot draw themselves, and don’t know what to draw anyway! The person who looked at the answer must do this but can only use two words and has no pen! “Up” and “down.” This is to instruct the person holding the pen to make contact with the white board or remove the pen from the board. Not to draw up and down, just to touch the pen to the board or remove it. This is a common mistake I have found when people first play this game! Which adds a lot of laughter on its own!
The person who looked at the answer then moves the board not the pen, as the other player holds it. It is incredibly hard at first, but after the person holding the pen gets used to the sensation, manages to keep their hand still and stop trying to second guess what they are drawing and add in subtle movements to “help;” teams start to draw things that look quite good. Usually this is by the final round and the game is over! So, a second game is often requested!
Teams will be drawing the same image at the same time, and it is a race. Which team can guess the right answer first! You can listen to the other teams guesses but not look at their drawing. The tension created as all players are engaged in the same activity at the same time is great! The quality of each teams’ drawings often varies greatly, but I promise you, it is not always the best picture that wins! It is more about getting on the same wavelength as your team. There is a way to score, or you can just play for fun, whatever works for your group. First to 10 points, 20, or most points within a certain time limit? Work it to suit your needs.
So, essentially this is pictionary but the artist can’t hold the pen! This level’s out the skills for people who can’t draw or don’t really enjoy trying. It makes this a very fun and amusing game to play and watch for people of all artistry skills. Each time I have played this game, there has been a lot of laughter, and in truth, screams of mock-frustration as the tension ramps up! This is a great family-friendly party game that will make everyone involved feel like they have equal opportunities to do well, and the teamwork style of one person holding the pen and another moving the board is a unique and fun experience that everyone will really enjoy!